Inner Circle

Event Marketing  

Don’t Leave Your Next Event Marketing Campaign to Luck

by Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes


Given the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked on our industry in recent weeks, you might be feeling like your luck has run out. At mdg, we’re hoping the pent-up demand for events and the commerce they generate will be the rainbow after the storm. Here are some attendee acquisition strategies that can help jump start your next marketing campaign and just might get you to that pot of attendance gold.


Performance modeling
Plan your next campaign by building a performance model that uses quantified historical data and your attendance objectives. Start by estimating how many website visits it’ll take to generate the registration numbers you desire, and then work backward from there to determine where the traffic will come from. By estimating how much traffic will be driven organically by email, digital ads, etc., you can set goals for impressions, engagement and click-throughs to determine your tactical plan and corresponding budget.


Not only do chatbots save you the valuable human resources needed to answer the same questions over and over again during an event, but they also can be a great way to mine data after an event. For instance, did you have multiple queries for an exhibitor who wasn’t there (but should have been!)? Were there questions about an area of the show floor that was hard to find or needed better signage? Did you learn that people are looking for information that needs to be more prominent on your website?


Human beings have evolved to live in a tribal society as opposed to a mass society, thus naturally we want to form networks or “tribes” of individuals with relevant commonalities. How can you capitalize on this concept to drive attendance at your next event? Create special receptions, educational content, meeting space, lounges or other connection opportunities for your tribes, e.g. women, young professionals, LBGTQ, committee members, C-level executives, industry verticals, etc.


Omnichannel marketing
To successfully employ omnichannel marketing, hit your prospects with the same message by using different channels in the same time period. For example, if you are sending a general registration email, do it the same week as a direct mail piece hits. Use the same content and call-to-action in both. If you are focused on driving conference attendance, highlight educational offerings in both a content marketing newsletter and digital advertising that are running at the same time.


Word-of-mouth marketing
Bring intention to word-of-mouth marketing by creating features of your event that are so unique, compelling and special that your audience can’t help but talk about them on their social meda feeds or with their colleagues. Serve champagne and strawberries to guests waiting in line at registration; give them a bottle of water and snack with their badge; host a “meet the speakers” reception for book signings, selfies, etc.; arrange no-host pop-up dinners—the possibilities are endless. Think about one or two special touches versus too many, and better yet, think about how you could get them sponsored!


*A version of this content originally appeared in PCMA Convene